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Filmmaker whose documentary featured homeless teens in New Orleans killed in Ukraine

He was killed Sunday when Russian troops opened fire, according to Ukrainian police.

NEW ORLEANS — A filmmaker who spent nearly a year in New Orleans to tell stories of homeless youth was killed by Russian troops. 

Brent Renaud, 50, was in Ukraine working on a project for TIME that focused on the global refugee crisis. He was killed Sunday when Russian troops opened fire, according to Ukrainian police.

Renaud and his brother, Craig Renaud, filmed the documentary, 'Shelter,' in 2015. It sheds light on homeless teens and the struggles they face while also seeking help from the Covenant House.

Matthew Seers was one of those teens when he was 17-years old.

"My mom and step dad just kind of didn’t want me around anymore," Seers said.

He's 24 now and said he's doing well. During those dark days of uncertainty as a homeless teen, he stayed at the Covenant House. He remembers Renaud coming in with a camera in hand.

"One day him and his brother just showed up," Seers said.

The 'Renaud Brothers' are Peabody award winning filmmakers. They spent nearly a year capturing raw, real stories of homeless youth in New Orleans. Seers was one of the youth featured in the one hour, 20 minute long documentary.

"He was a really nice guy, even after the documentary was being filmed and during it, he would always come check up on me at work, see how I was doing, the progress I was making," Seers said.

The documentary was released in 2017.

"He wanted people to know a fuller sense of humanity," said Jim Kelly who was director of the Covenant House at the time.

He worked closely with the Renaud brothers.

"They fell in love with our young people and they captured their goodness, their beauty, and they captured how brave they are," Kelly said.

Renaud spent decades covering war and crisis around the world including time in Afghanistan and Iraq. Recently he's been in Ukraine covering the global refugee crisis, according to TIME.

Renaud was with another American filmmaker, Juan Arrendondo, who said they were driving to film refugees leaving Ukraine when they heard shots.

"We crossed a checkpoint and they started shooting at us," Arrendondo said from a hospital room just moments after the shots were fired.

Ukrainian police said Russian forces shot the journalists outside Kyiv. Arrendondo explained that he and Renaud were split up during the attack.

"He's been shot and left behind," Arrendondo said.

"How is he?" a journalist asked.

"I don't know, I don't know," Arrendondo said.

Arrendondo would later learn his friend and collegue was killed. Renaud died at 50 years old.

"How senseless, how tragic. You know, he's not going to be around to tell stories about all those people on the fringes," Kellys said.

Kelly called Renaud a person of grace who respected the youth in New Orleans in the way he shared their stories in the documentary.

"We showed it to our young people and he got the highest compliment he could. They said it was real and that meant the world to him," Kelly said.

"Very compassionate about people that didn’t really have a voice at the time," Seers said.

The documentary, 'Shelter,' has close to 5-million views on YouTube. The piece won a Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2016 New Orleans Film Festival.

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